Sunday, 29 January 2017

"Do You Hear The People Sing?"

There is little to be cheerful about, at the moment.

America has elected a fascist, who is already attempting to implement unconstitutional, racist policy, aimed at demonising a whole community of people.  Men, women and children are being detained at airports, threatened with the prospect of being returned to unsafe homelands.  And the despicable irony is that these people are not only refugees, but, in several cases, American citizens, who have peacefully lived and worked in the US for many years.  Oh, and just in case that's not enough to make you realise that this is a dangerous man for whom ethics and respect are just good Scrabble words, he's also blocked federal funding for any global health organisations that provide - or even discuss - abortion, leaving women with far fewer choices when dealing with a pregnancy that - for any number of reasons - they feel unable to continue with.  This could force women in developing countries into searching for unsafe methods to end their pregnancies, but hey, we're supposed to believe that this is apparently all for the best.  Because dear old President Trump cares deeply about the sanctity of human life.  

Unless you're a Syrian refugee...

Trump's government seems to be filled with white supremacists, misogynists and homophobes.  The "Land of The Free" has never seemed less so.

Here in the UK, we have a Prime Minister who seems barely able (perhaps unwilling?!) to criticise Donald Trump's blatant Islamophobia with any real conviction.  She is, instead, making ludicrous statements about their relationship, such as "opposites attract" and being encouraged by her Brexit-supporting ministers to ensure we make a deal with Trump, seeing as 52% of the UK decided we ought to be pulled out of the European Union and damnit, "Brexit means Brexit."

Oh, and over in Russia, they've decided to de-criminalise domestic violence.

We are living in a world in which it's not a good time to be a Muslim.  Or non-white.  Or a woman.  Or anything but heterosexual.

Things don't look good.  They don't feel good.  And it's okay to be upset, worried or scared about that.  In fact, I question you more than a little if you're not at all concerned.

But there is something to take comfort in.

People - not merely in twos or threes, but in their hundreds of thousands - are saying: "No."

Too often, we hear criticism of musicians, actors and other celebrities, for weighing in on political issues, but it is those people with platforms who are often able to shout the loudest.  And shout they have.

Whether in award acceptance speeches, at rallies or just on Twitter, famous people with enough clout to have their views heard have been saying: "No."

And it's not just celebrities.  The day after Trump's inauguration, millions took to the street in cities across the globe, as part of a march for women's rights, and indeed human rights.  In response to Trump's funding cuts for health organisations and the politicisation of women's reproductive rights (amongst other things, including the new President's blatant misogyny and alarming propensity to brag about sexual assault), millions said: "No."

Now, as officials at American airports detain refugees and citizens alike, based on only their countries of birth (or indeed, their religion), many thousands more people have turned up to loudly protest.  They are saying - they are screaming: "NO."

Todd Maisel/New York Daily News

There will be cynics reading this, who will sigh and shake their heads at the idea of finding hope through noisy Twitter accounts, or protesters who will, eventually, have to go back to their normal, everyday lives.  "What can they achieve?" Those cynics will ask.

Well, firstly, never underestimate people-power.  However much his ego may like to think it, Donald Trump is not America.  The people are.  No matter how little the cynics amongst you might think can be achieved by people all over the world raising their voices, history has shown many times that if you shout loud enough, eventually someone has to listen.  Now is not the time to sit silently on the sidelines.  Now is not the time for glib remarks about it not being our problem, or that it might not be as bad as we think, or that we can't really care about X, because we didn't protest Y.  

Where you see injustice, or inequality, it must be called out.  Anywhere and everywhere.

Only by uniting to speak out against fascism do we ever stand a hope of really challenging it.  Individually, some guy on Twitter may not have much power.  But, combined with thousands of others - writers, politicians, people with platforms that allow the message to travel further - that power becomes immeasurable.

It's also vital to remember that, in a world that now feels isolated to many, purely because of their ethnicity, religion, sexuality or gender, the significance of voices raised in solidarity is enormous.  People whose rights are being systematically removed from them should always have support and to see it being given, via protests, petitions and yes, angry tweets, is a ray of light in a steadily darkening world.

Picture taken from Liberation News.

There is not a lot to be cheerful about, currently.

But as long as people continue to raise their voices against the rising threat of fascism, and as long as their words lead to actions, then there is still some hope to be found.  And I will cling to that hope, because, I too believe that, deep down, people are good.

And if we continue to work together and support one another, now and in the future, goodness will prevail.  However long it takes.  I have to believe that, because the alternative is unthinkable.

So, keep marching, keep tweeting, keep refusing to be quiet and accept the status quo.  Keep speaking up and defending those who need it now more than ever.  

However, you choose to speak out or act against the problems you're seeing, just keep going.  You never know whose life you're bringing hope to, when you do.


  1. I have heard all the news about the things that have been happening for the past two weeks, including the most recent on the radio every morning and it's depressing. However, I have made a decision to not post about this kind of stuff online: neither my blog, nor my Facebook, not even my Instagram. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't care about any of these issues. In fact words cannot describe how much inside I am hurt by what is happening South of me and across the oceans, so some of my friends think I don't care when I refuse to talk to them about these issues on Facebook or wherever when in reality I do care. I'm not afraid to speak up about what I think about these issues but I prefer to not do it online because of the flame wars it leads to, how I feel it is unhealthy to be too negative online, and I already see enough politics on TV and the radio. I use the Internet to escape all of those things and focus on what I enjoy. But, if I were to speak up, I'd probably do it by marching, approaching people in person because I'm more likely to expect honesty from them and myself. But then again, we all have different ways of speaking up against the things we do not wish to happen whether it be immigrant banning or limiting options for women. I do care about these things, I just choose not to express it online. I admire you for speaking up about this on your blog, but I suppose posting this kind of stuff just isn't for everyone. :)

    1. Totally understandable, lovely. I don't take issue with anyone who chooses not to speak out online - the amount of ignorance and hate you can receive in reply is certainly enough to put many off and with good reason. I am more concerned by people who don't say anything - anywhere - to say "hey, this isn't good," even in passing chit-chat. That said, I do also understand people who have very right-wing family members that they don't feel able to stand up against for a variety of reasons, too. Speaking out against what we know to be wrong is important, but so is personal safety and we should always be mindful of that. I am also very keenly aware of how upsetting this stuff is to talk about - it can certainly exacerbate feelings of depression or hopelessness, when it's on the news 24/7 and starts taking over social media.

      For me, seeing people raise their voices gives me hope. But I will always appreciate why others don't feel able to or have perfectly valid reasons not to. :)

    2. That's good to hear and yes that's also why I don't do it. It's very easy to trigger people who disagree with you on any sort of political matter. Several weeks ago when I actually DID say something against Trump, one of my ex-FB friends laughed it off arguing with me and told me to get over it basically conveying the message that he is okay with racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc. I was devastated because I trusted him in the past and now it feels all lost because of this.

      But yeah, I do agree with you about how it is bothering when people just "accept" it and don't say anything. I'm not sure how anyone can be like that. However, even though I prefer to talk about politics with others in person, if someone were to ask me online what I think about it, then I will give an honest answer. Thankfully no one in my family supports Trump. *phew* but like you said, we hear and see it everywhere sometimes you just want to take a break which is why I like using the Internet to escape that.

      Despite me not wanting to see it everywhere online when I already hear enough about it on the radio to keep me in the know and talk to family and friends about it, I still like it when friends and celebrities online are able to speak up how this makes them feel as well.

  2. Thank you for posting about this. Right now, it is difficult to feel cheerful about much of anything....because there is so much social injustice going on. It is scary. These are the moments people will read about in their history books and think, "How did people let this happen?" The only thing that is bringing me comfort lately is to know that people ARE speaking out, showing up, and fighting for the rights of others. It reminds me that there is as much good in this world as there is bad. One thing is for sure...we will not give up. And we will not be silent.


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